Books I recommend if, like me, you enjoy reading about historical events, travel or epic novels.

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Still Life | Sarah Winman

Summary: Tuscany, 1944: As Allied troops advance and bombs fall around deserted villages, a young English soldier, Ulysses Temper, finds himself in the wine cellar of a deserted villa. There, he has a chance encounter with Evelyn Skinner, a middle-aged art historian who has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and recall long-forgotten memories of her own youth.

Recommendation: I will be traveling to Italy this year and this book has heightened my anticipation.  Along with learning Italian, this book has been helpful in putting phrases in context.  A delightful romantic and often edgy read. The descriptions of Florence are captivating.  The Piazza della Signoria and Basilica di Santo Spirito will definitely be on my list after reading this book.  Whether you plan to visit Italy or just enjoy reading stories set in foreign lands, while in the comfort of your favorite spot, this is an enjoyable read.

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The Taking of Jemima Boone | Matthew Pearl

Summary: In “The Taking of Jemima Boone,” the historical mystery author Matthew Pearl makes his nonfiction debut with a factual thriller about the kidnapping of the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone’s daughter Jemima in 1776. Once a popular subject of 19th-century artists and authors, and the inspiration for James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans,” the episode will be less familiar to most 21st-century American readers.

Recommendation: If you enjoy reading about historical events, this is an enjoyable read.  It will take you back in time and reveal some interesting facts about the Boone family, their trials and travels.  This is a recap of the kidnapping that shaped America.  Mr. Pearl transforms the time period with accurate detailing of colonial and tribal dealings in the 18th century.

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Pillars of the Earth | Ken Follett

Summary: The story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known. Tom, the mason who becomes his architect-a man divided in his soul. Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame. The struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

Recommendation: I’m new to blogging for the library, so I have to include my all time favorite book.  This book is an epic tale. You will see old stone churches with new eyes because of the amazing descriptions in this novel. The story is character rich and Follett is a descriptive master.  I once had a friend’s daughter tell me not to give her mom any more books, because she wouldn’t put this one down. 

About the author

Smithton Public Library

The Smithton Public Library District is located in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, MO. The library serves nearly 5,000 residents. We hope you visit us soon!